Wednesday, May 27, 2009

SchemaSpy for NAnt

Earlier this year, I talked about a couple of tools to help automate pieces of the development process in some fashion.  One such tool was SchemaSpy, a Java-based database documentation tool.  SchemaSpy is a tool that I love working with; however, always was annoyed of using it in a manual method.  I streamlined this a little bit using a batch script but it still didn't feel quite right when I hooked it up to my automated deployments.  So, I did what any process driven developer would do; I made it work more naturally into NAnt.

I started a custom NAnt task for SchemaSpy.  Given the complexity of using SchemaSpy to begin with, I decided to not seek to have it added to the NAnt contrib or similar libraries around the web.  However, even though I wanted it separate, I did decide to open source it.  So, I create a CodePlex project to host my NAnt task for SchemaSpy.  In it's current version, it only has the bare minimum of options that I have required; however, I am hoping to continue working on it until it's feature complete.  If you are looking for a great way to document your databases in associated with your automated builds with NAnt, take a look at it since it hopefully will provide you options for what you need.

I'm always open for feedback and recommendations on the task.  Hopefully I'll be posting the next release with in the week.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Expecting More From Example Code

While I'm typing this post, I'm actually on vacation.  A road trip to a destination in hopes to relax and unwind from my daily routines.  However, I had to bring the laptop for informational purposes (of course).  On the road, I was thinking about some of the posts that I have created and also of those that I refer back to.  I also compared a lot of these posts against the increased visibility toward the S.O.L.I.D. principles of Object Oriented design.  The more I thought about it, the more I became inspired on the question of should people who read blogs and go to presentations expect more from the authors?

In my opinion, the presentations and the traditional style of technical blog posts are fine.  I feel like they teach a concentrated concept in a, hopefully, straight forward manner.  Some topics provide more practical implementation; however, how many times have you ran across a demo where the variables were only named Foo and Bar?  Presenting a concept is great and effective; however, should more be provided in the examples of in a supplemental post on how to apply the information "properly"?

For example, I wrote a post on using jQuery for different types of visual effects of your elements last year.  It was a very simple post with a moderate amount of code that focused on the topic and didn't deviate.  I, as the author, left it up to the reader to apply this knowledge into their own works.  What if I was to go 1 step further and do a live demo similar to blogs like and  Would that help push the concept better?  What if I supplied a zip file with files that apply the concepts learn in a more real-world scenario?  A lot of my more recent posts include VS projects; however, it is usually a direct reflection of the code inside of the post.  In that jQuery effects posts, I could have easily created a simple directory structure containing the proper files in a traditional/standard method (i.e. separating the CSS and JavaScript into their own directories, etc.).  With regards to my .Net posts, should I make sure that all of my code is commented? Refactored properly to meet the SOLID principles (sans my F# code due to it being functional and not oo)? Include Unit Tests?  I know a lot of people, including myself, who learned some skill by taking someone else's code and then tinkering and tweaking it to learn how things work based on their changes.  I'm wondering if more people would used Unit Testing or "proper" OO design if more of the example code in the blogsphere came with such.

I said earlier that presentations and the traditional blog post is fine as is.  The reason why I say this yet question the example code is that the extra stuff (i.e. Unit Tests, Full Comments, properly design class structures) can sometimes sidetrack the post or presentation.  Questions often rise about these ancillary items as opposed to the concept you are attempting to teach.  So, with that said, I still believe that the posts and presentations are fine.

Should we expect more from the Example Code?  In my opinion, yes.  I know I have a lot of work to do since adding such polish is time consuming; however, if it can assist in improving the overall quality of the code someone else uses, then it'd be worth it.

What do you think?  Should those of us that read blog posts and presentations expect more from the example code tied to such?  Should those of us that author posts provide a more comprehensive look at their code in order to encourage better practices?

What do you think?

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